Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Day 5- Going Home.....

Woke up feeling both sad and excited at the same time...Sad because we were leaving N and her family , excited because I was seing mine! We did call home everyday (RM1200 worth of calls it seems!) and Johan reported that he could not sleep when I was not around. Happily the family stayed at my mom's.

In the morning we got dressed and packed up. We did not know what to do with the bags so we left them in the room. We went down for breakfast and had tea . What they take for granted over here we pay so much for in Malaysia - the tea had a faint tinge of spice in it and I was told all tea is boiled. Is it??

After that, we went to auntie's house . Of course, she fed us and well. Paushwalli and Manar stayed the nite while N and her husband spent the nite at the hotel . It was good that they can have some time to their own. I know what weddings can be like - you rush here and there and you have no time for yourself or husband ! Or to hear yourself think even!

We waited for them at the house, playing games with the kids. Of course, auntie fed us properly! So much food! There were relatives walking in the house - it was just a steady stream and auntie was telling me that she usually stays alone otherwise! Her leg must be aching she was on "perfect hostess" mode!

Finally nearly noon, N and husband came back. Slight panic as she had forgotten (or G did not tell her) that G's flight to Mangalore where her grandparents are, was about a couple of hours away. Dhi came through (again!) and sent her. It was a sad parting for her as well as she lives in the UK! We have no idea when we are all going to meet up again although I have given my business cards to everyone so that they can come. Esp N and her family- and M and her daughter. too

That's the thing you know, about N and me. When we are together it would be as if we had never left each other and that we see each other every day. When we were in Chelmford all those years ago, we used to call each other every day and see each other as often. She was first my neighbour and then she moved house and we still kept in touch. When we moved away from Chelmsford we would still keep in touch and we left Nadine with them when hubby and I went up to London for his graduation.

We used to moan about how we wished our husbands would just get their professional exams allready the stress was doing us in! Hee hee. We also had another friend - Wei ling. A real muhibah team we were. We used to go everywhere together with our kids! She is Malaysian so I still have some contact with her but not as much as N- I tell you I have seen N more than I saw Wei!

Anyway back to the present, they all asked me what I wanted to do. The groom and bride came back to the house. wink wink nudge nudge . And the bride's family had a reception for them that nite so we could not actually go far. I was happy enough to go around the area nearby and not have to see the sites. Next time!

We saw Juhu first. We stopped at this icecream place which had all the fruit icecream - all home made!V My favourite fruit in the world- ciku - was here - So I had Chicoo icecream, (CIKU!) and tender coconut icecream, and papaya icecream - this was divine. Pic is from
www.onehotstove.blogspot.com which will by the way make you drool as it talks about Indian food! Reminded me about briyani etc!

We drove past JUHU Beach - it was ok, clean, and just by the roadside like in Australia. I'm not going to lie and say everything was hunky dory though. Saw a child stark naked squatting by the roadside and pooing! Image will stick with me forever....! Also we went to a fabric shop for me to get my compulsory couple of yards. I had this worry that they were going to be late for the reception and really - fabric is not that important compared to being late! So I chose a couple of cottons and decided that was it. Not that I don't love all the cottons there I was sooo tempted to get more but I was reminded of my husband's words not to go mad and shop! I have not seen the same kind of white cotton in Malaysia- maybe I have not looked hard enough? There was a saree piece that I loved but Nadine reminded me that I had already bought so many pieces of fabric and she also reminded me of the price she had converted to Ringgit and I realised that hubby was smart by getting her to come with me hee hee hee! My treasurer. We did buy bangles for the kids at home which I left in India. clever me. N bought the girls lovely blouses which would cost a BOMB in KL.
Rushed to get to the airport and inconvenienced everyone who had to figure out how to get to the Bride's dinner held by the Bride's side and still get me to the airport on time. In the end N, her hubby, her sister in law, her brother in law, her niece, all sent me to the airport while on the way to the reception cum dinner. Thank you very much! So sad to say bye bye- although it helped that I was anxious to check in- I am always anxious! Managed to get a few more knick knacks from the duty free - trinkets for the office, really. In the plane, I sat next to this Chinese lady who was also in Mumbai to attend a wedding and was also there during the week that I was! No, not same wedding.....She wore a saree though. Her wedding sounds so elaborate! Held at grand hotels and dancing etc etc. I am sure she had fun but I think I had so much more warmth! Hee hee hee!
Now time to think about what to do with the saree fabric groom gave to me hee hee!
So ends my trip report..once pics have been emailed to me (I hope) I'll post them up..

Day 4- reception!

Day 4- Reception! We had moved rooms the day before which was bigger and more comfy. It was very kind of the groom to put us up there..! When we went around later I saw for myself the hotels which we thought of booking when I thought my husband was coming- they were far from her house and we would not be able to enjoy ourselves so much!

Of course, went over (rather lateish) ostensibly for breakfast but since it was close to lunch, Auntie whipped out lunch (she told me she has had everything prepared earlier and managed to make it sound really easy , this cooking business!). Actually she had mentioned to come for breakfast earlier! We slept in and arrived around 11 actually! I had to conserve battery of phone so could not call the house! When finally I did I got the idea that we had better go over there elpronto! I can imagine auntie asking my friend where her ditzy friend was heh heh..!

No pics sorry as camera died the day before. I wore my modern black short kebaya top and camisole , with the sarong from another outfit - mix and match! The other outfit's top was a proper baju kurung which I thought was not suitable. Nadine wore her blue baju kurung with lace over it and I had clipped some blue orchids in her hair, which she had taken from the wedding before. I wish now that I had kept some of it back as souvenirs...The groom was in a suit today. Everyone looked so dashing!

Zooming straight to the reception time, around 6.30 we set off, Nadine went off with M, Aka, M's daughter G, via cab. Me, Auntie, Ana(N's sister inlaw bythe way) and someone else, all went into the car. Which stalled in the middle of traffic, in the middle of rush hour Mumbai. It was already 7 plus by then, and we were definitely late. Happily the other side was also late.
Back to the car..it stalled again. Amazingly no one honked like mad, they just drove around us. The second time it refused to budge, we all stopped. So smoky! I read that the pollution is very bad- and it is a real problem esp during traffic like that. Auntie tried hailing cabs and guess what??All cab drivers around the world act up during traffic jams- they refused point blank to take us to the Matoshree Club where the reception was held.

Then Auntie turned to me and said do I have money? Yes Auntie just Rupee 100! (No one brought money) So she hailed 2 rickshaws. Now, rickshaws are like tuk tuks..they have no door. And forget about seatbelts. Aka and I went in one rickshaw and off we went. It went very fast and when it was about to hit a car the driver of the rickshaw would swerve and then curse the car. I hung on for dear life to the rail between us and the driver. I did not know where the club was or how much the fare was going to be, and I told Aka I was glad she was there as I would not understand anything the driver may ask us - she said "neither would I!" Waaa?? Har har har...Aka hails from Mangalore and speaks a different language. She thought I was hilarious as I was telling her that the driver could well afford to sing as he drives as he did not have the five kids!

We passed through Mumbai and I note that there were a lot of squatter like houses. I peered into the homes and they have clothes hanging etc and its like any other flat Perkeliling in KL - we are not that different eh. One heck of a fire hazard though. It was a priceless and memorable adventure although I was very glad to arrive! Thank goodness Ana was waiting with the fare money. He had heard as auntie's tuk tuk had arrived before us!

We went up to the club's room where the groom and N and family were getting ready. The reception was held on open grounds slightly bigger than where the wedding was. There were screens on the left and right side of the garden which shows the picture of the wedding the nite before as well as random pics of the bride and groom - a bit like our wedding eh? There were chairs on the stage for the couple to sit on . A bit more modern. The couple went up the stage with everyone. Sarees galore and more elaborate than possible. More people this time round lining up to shake the couple's hands. In fact they came immediately up ! N, her husband, and sons all lined up. N's 6 year old son who had to stand with his family finally cried off and went to play.

Again, there were stalls set up around the garden which served the food. Fresh bread and puri was done on the grounds and captivated Nadine who stood before them for a long time. She kept nagging me if she could go and eat. I let her go around to see the stalls herself as we sat below to watch the bride and groom greet their guests - the line was long!

Menu was not vegetarian this time and included chicken and fish and even one Thai green curry chicken! I was trying to convey to my new found friends that we are a multicultural country over in Malaysia- yes I have eaten tosey and I have seen sarees but the reason I do not feel odd wearing my bajukurung in the sea of glittering sarees is that in Malaysia the bajukurung would stand next to the cheongsam and the sarees and no one would bat an eyelid! Same with the food. The best way I could demonstrate our Malaysian essence is that a typical dinner would probably consist of curry, sweet and sour fish, and kangkung belacan! Malay Indian and Chinese all juxtaposed! How to explain yah.

Don't you think that Asian values tend to be the same- except over in Mumbai apparently the Muslims are a bit more traditional- this is told to me ok I did not verify this myself). No movie stars today!
After a lot of food where the waiters came to our spot to offer food (there was so much food!) we started to leave. Had to say thank you to the Bride's family for graciously allowing us to attend (and hog) at their daughter's do.

This nite was the official "wedding nite".. the groom's family went to the hotel where they were going to spend their "first nite" and spread rosepetals all over and "Malaysian" bubbles - god knows what this is- the first thing Malaysian and I have no idea what it is! Some feather boa was also involved I heard. We were of course directed to go home with the "Kids" ie G, N's sons and Nadine..Awwww mummy!!! But actually glad of the rest.

The sad part was we had to say bye bye to M.....she left for Bangalore at 1.30 in the morning. Her daughter would be flying off the next day so she spent that nite with us, staying up and watching movies - She was telling me all about this sad ShahrukhKhan's movie where he was having an affair with this married woman- Khabi Alvidaar something. This girl, is half an English girl, actually, and she is very very Indian. So good that she is very much in touch with her heritage. I told her I am into Korean drama (yes, me who have watched all of 2 shows??)

We also watched STAR . Nadine was tickled that the shows are in Hindi- like Spongebob Square pants etc.

Day 3- The Wedding!

(The one thing we Malaysians may have with people in India is we are late all the time! Tee hee!)
(This is us rushing to get to the Wedding. Held at the Army Institute in Juhu.)

Today is the wedding! Groom was feeling apprehensive as this is the last day of his singledom...hey women go through it too ok mate. heh heh heh....the groom is a lovely kind person let me put it on record.

After lunch we went back to our place and got ready . Nadine is her dad's daughter in that she takes sooooo long to get ready. I have NO IDEA what she does in the bathroom that takes THAT Long!! I saw M and her daughter get ready and they were held not by the shower, but by the lengthy process of putting on their elaborate costumes !

Nadine and I were wearing our outfits which we had worn for Lana's wedding- hey fancy enuff whaaaaat. When we arrived at auntie's house everyone was still getting ready. Women had their hair adorned with jasmine and their hands and arms decorated with gold jewelry ..I so can live here, heh heh.. I did not feel out of place,even though not in saree, because I think we are such a multicultural place back home, its normal to be surrounded by lovely sarees when you yourself are in a baju kurung.

The groom's car went on ahead first. (nicely decorated by the groom's SuperSister!)

The Wedding cannot be held late, as, (I was informed) that the good time to get bride and groom married was between 6 to 7. In fact the time on the card said 6.10 pm.

We arrived at the grounds where the wedding was to be held, following the Groom’s car. There were chairs, lights and buffet stalls circling the area. There was a stage at the end of the garden which was covered with gerberas and orchids and some white flowers I do not know the name to. A priest was already sitting there. There were musicians in the background.

When we arrived, the groom's party was stopped at the entrance. The bride's party greeted him and performed a small ceremony with him , before N and hubby escorted him to the stage. I would say that the groom was greeted "traditionally "by the Bride’s side- (which means I don’t actually know what they did except a lot of beautifully dressed people surrounded him(heh heh), then he headed to the stage and the waiting priest. ( Sounds very much like MY wedding where the kadhi was also kept waiting heh heh) .

Bride was not around at this stage. The groom was led on to the stage by his brother in law the lovely Dr S, (N's husband).

Later she arrived in all her finery (and they were fine yessireeee!!), escorted by her party. As I was rudely stepping in front of people taking pictures (sorry Aka and Ana) I heard this loud sound which was actually the sound of trumpet which blew periodically throughout the ceremony and to announce a critical stage of the ceremony.

(nadine asked them if she could take their pic and they posed for her- how nice!)

The ceremony lasted about one hour (?) – The parents of both sides were also on the stage together with N and her husband- apparently N has to lead the Bride and the husband has to lead the Groom around the fire(small fire only) When the groom ties the “mangal sutera” to the bride (ie a necklace) they then are officially married- awwwwwww..I was told that you do not take off that necklace as long as you are married.

At one point we left the grounds as M had a headache , to look for paracetamol as well as the loo. At the other side of the loo was a part of the grounds where quite a number of ppl were playing what looked very much like BINGO! Strange , don’t they know that a wedding was going on???

Coming back from the loo Nadine decided that enough was enough, it was time to eat. It was vegetarian buffet - She got her own plate and went to all the stalls – I pinched from her plate, and waited with the others to eat with the bride and groom. Meja pengantin lah basically. Unlike our wedding, ppl do not eat first and then greet the bride and groom. Here they line up to greet the couple first. Then eat. The bride and groom and their family would stand in a line and be congratulated by the guests. Guests kept on coming !

At long last M and I decided that we should also join the line of well wishers., so we did. Halfway through us going “well done etc” , we got sort of ignored and groom and N started to talk over our heads. There were commotion as the guy behind us was Kunal Kapoor the actor and Suzanne Khan the wife of Mr Roshan.(she is the one in orange saree)

Of course I had no idea who these ppl were (except who has not heard of Hritik Roshan??) but I thought I’d take their pics! One idiot stood in the way of one very beautiful frontal pic. Now, I can tell you just who Kunal Kapoor is ! A very HOT actor these days!

The line continued and we watched from below. Took loads of pics with the guests and the family. N's eldest son confessed that this was his first experience of an Indian wedding too! Well- he is only 17 and way in the States.

Before the end of the ceremony on the stage and after the guests have ceased to come on stage, there was a bit of commotion. It seems that the bride's party was trying to wrestle the groom's slippers off him! Dhi was explaining to me that it has become the trend lately for the bride and the groom's families to "steal" something from the other and then try to get it back - involving bartering and negotiating and talking "price". It can get rather hairy too as he related one incident where one side had hidden the stolen item in a car and the other side had broken into the car to get it! Compensation had to be paid!- well people do get carried away although I guess that is a pretty good ice breaker eh.

At the end, we finally got together to eat. A long U shaped table was put together and the bride and groom sat at the head of the table while I shamelessly occupied a seat at the other ends with the younger cousins. I supposed they thought this auntie is so childish the way I talk to them eh. Nadine sat in a chair behind me as she had allready eaten! Food today was all vegetarian but was not any less delicious!

After the meal, time to go...the bride's party "handed over" to the groom's family ..but they were separated for the nite..until the nite after the reception. We all got ready to go back....One thing that the Rai and Shetty clan had in common with us and the Adom Clan is that we all scrambled to get all the flowers off the stage!
Even Nadine went up and got ppl to get her orchids etc - she wore some flowers in her hair the next day. It was so much fun to watch everyone on the holy stage, taking the flowers home. Heehee hee! "Ke-jakun-an" is borderless I guess hee hee!

Sigh…it was all in all a colourful event. Full of joy. Felt so honoured to have been able to watch it.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Day 3! Murta and Wedding!

Day 3- the Wedding- in the morning there was "Blessing" ceremony. I was informed by N that this was a "blessing ceremony" done to the bridegroom.

I’ve been describing the trip to India to my colleagues and the best description I can think of is going to a wedding of your close cousin where you are part of the family and involved in most things. We did not even get this involved in our own cousins’ wedding – I don't know why but we should. I should take leave and bunk in with any other family member for the entire time heh heh. I hope we were not in N's way.

We went to Auntie’s place in time for a vegetarian breakfast (typical Malaysians- always thinking of food) and to watch the groom get ready for the Murta. Shamelessly we stalked him as he got ready, heh heh. Auntie had done her house so nicely with drawings in front of the door. I wore a kebaya top with pants as that was the other dressy thing I had.
The groom was “bathed” in tumeric by his sister and cousins but I can't remember when - Was it the nite before? I remember him peeking from the bathroom all wet and yellow! Must have been the nite before- should have kept a journal lah! Nikhil wore a long shirt made out white embossed cotton. I love the cotton over here! So many patterns!
Anyway the Murta reminds me very much of our merenjis – as Nikhil sits on the chair , he gets blessed by relatives- except where we would “throw” fragrant cuttings he got a faceful of rice. Or was it just me who threw rice at his face? I also got to put on the red mark on his forehead. Cool! Of course the camera decides to kong at this exact point.

I did go back to the room for a bit after lunch to rest and pray. Crossing the road was fun as we held up our hands to stop the rickshaw drivers and the car drivers. Look them in the eye – that’s the trick. Once at the hostel we had a shower- you need to as its quite dusty out there . Soon we were joined by M and her daughter G and all of us rushed to get ready for the wedding. I basically did not bother to compete with what was absolutely stunning sarees and salwar kameez and what have yous and decided to go with our safe bajukurung.

Day 2 !- Mehendi and Juhu at nite!

Second Day- Got up early! Had breakfast at canteen downstairs the block we were staying! Had tose masala which was tosai with potato curry (dry) in it. Nice! Tea was boiled and milky! I had coffee which tasted and looked like tea! Tagged along with N on her errands - buying spree before their guests arrive for the Mehendi ceremony. (Auntie and Uncle had invited their relatives for Mehendi and for lunch. Around 30 plus came). Had a chance to see a bit of town as we followed N around. Went to several shops looking for paper plates etc. Stopped at a St*nd*rd Charter*d bank trying to get Rupees but again, my ATM card was not recognised (even though they have the PLUS sign at the back) . In the meantime, posed in front of a huge house which was Amitabh Bachan's house. No point putting that pic here as all you can see is the brown timber gate with the security guard there. While we were there N and Uncle left to get flowers. Then to another shop to get gulab jamun and icecream. Nadine posed in front of M*ggi M*e localised- M*ggi Masala, Dal atta noodles! We wanted to get some but had no rupee darn it. (View of Juhu from N's apartment) When we reached N's parents' apartment the Mehendi gals were already there. As the guests were not yet there we had our turn first! Designs quite quite different than the ones done at Lana's wedding . Much bigger . I almost did not let Nadine have her hand done as she was going to school but thought that she'd have almost a week for it to fade . (its fading allready as I type this).

Special treat- auntie had this man who prepared several types of puri in the kitchen. Puri is a puff which he breaks into with a spoon, making a little hole into which he puts tomatoes, onions etc and the spicy soup . There were three types of puri including paneer puri, and shevpuri.
(Pic is of shev puri from http://www.bloggang.com/). I must have eaten 20. We were constantly eating!! Auntie would not let us go without eating lunch or breakfast! At lunch and over the next few days it was food fiesta. Like going to P*ss*ge to Indi* all the time. Auntie had put out fried chicken which was marinated in spices, noodle (for Nadine) and other dishes such as fried fish (fried in crumbly spicy flour and not our typical tumeric), garlic bread, spinach chicken, butter chicken, mutton, prawn masala! know now where N got her cooking skills. Dessert was gulab jamoon which I have had only the once in KL (it was too sweet then for me) . Over in Mumbai it was still sweet but eaten with icecream it was delicious! and not too sweet so that you can't eat it !There is even Gulab Jamun for diabetics! Here they sell Icecream in boxes! And gulab jamun in tubs!

At nite we tagged along again- poor N she could not shake us off he he he! This time around, the groom, Kaj and Dhi , followed to get some stuff. N had to look for chapals, and some stuff for the wedding the next day. We made several stops actually.First, she took us to this saree shop as the groom had to buy a saree for the bride as a gift. They chose a lime green and yellow piece. The groom also gave her a diamond necklace set. The saree shop she took us had some very very exquisite sarees which was , I had a feeling, way way way wayyyyyyyyyy over any budget I may have. Even the ones marked "faulty" were expensive by my standards lah! They were nice though!
Then we went to the market place near Andheri train station, to look for chapals. The market was full of colour and food, flowers, bangles, clothes etc were on display.
Impression of Juhu? Busy. Happy. Easy to get lost in. But nice. Oh if only we had some rupees...

Day 1! Almost did not make it!

Mad mad day where we almost missed the flight. One scary moment when we could not find the tickets which led to one very surreal conversation with the telephone woman at MAS hotline who insisted that I give her the endorsement number of the tickets before she could advise me what I should do in the case of lost tickets! What was surreal about it is that the endorsement numbers were at the back of the tickets! "Miss, do you understand me," at one point I had to spell it out very slowly," I have lost the tickets. I can't give you the endorsement numbers because it is at the back of the tickets and I cannot find them. Understand???" At the end of it she finally got me and barked at me that to reissue would make us poorer by RM300 - and the tickets were then miraculously found by hubby (hmmm..makes you wonder eh?) . Somehow we only left the house at half past 5, and I was on the phone to the said MAS people who acted like this was the first time they had ever heard of passengers being late and they really do not have any clue what to do. One guy actually told me that the plane was hardly going to wait for one passenger. Hello??? Im paying ??? And even if it was true can you be a bit more polite about it?? Anyways I hate all telephone ppl . Finally we got on the plane thank goodness. This was despite airport officials not because of them. Because we were running late I had asked which counter we should head to- and was redirected 3 times!!! Once we got to J it was F then it was C and so on. Soooo sad to leave the kids, and Johan. Surprisingly, Dahlia was teary too! She is such a softie actually...(me running - holding Johan's hand, and Dahlia hanging on my other arm!). Journey was ok, a bit of confusion as we had sat on some guy's seat (because we were so late we were given seats not corresponding to that shown on the boarding pass ) but he was so nice he let us have the window seats so that Nadine could enjoy her flying experience. (last trip she was 7). We enjoyed the inflight movie- well I did once I changed from Superman returns to My superexgirlfriend - not too happy watching superman rescue planes that were about to crash while I was myself in a plane, and there is no superman! (Oh yes, you have to fill in a card when you land.) Arrived and discovered (a) No Malaysian ringgit at airport forex (b) Its nice to be greeted by a driver holding a card with your name once in a while (c) Bombay is hazy permanently (d) traffic in Mumbai is very noisy, and (e) ppl use the honk in place of signalling !

After another bit of confusion where we were taken to the apartment instead of the club where there is a prewedding bash party going on. I finally got to meet N..she looked (as always)amazingly good and a lot slimmer than the last time we met in Duluth! (and not because she may read this heh heh heh!) . I met G who had grown to be a beauty at 16! ( I saw her last at 8!). N and G's mom, M, oohed and aahed over how big Nadine has grown - the last time M and G saw HER she was a few months old! N, her brother ,and her husband had come to see Nadine a few minutes after she came out. I remember still being in the labour room when they came. N's husband, S, had even gotten ready to sleep and had to come out again to visit me! And now my daughter Nadine was as big as their son was at that time!

Everyone was dancing Hindi movie steps and not your average jiggling - apparently I had missed their performance specially choreographed for the party! And N's special dance! I met a lot of ppl who were going to be our new good friends in the next few days. Everyone was indeed friendly and pushed us to the dance floor. Nadine was very sporting and did not seem to mind leaving my side! Typical outfits were the salwar kameez although very fancy! Steady flow of food and drinks. Time to go back (Bunty helped with our bag - thanks Bunty...). End of the first day , at 2 am. Shared a room with M and her daughter . Discovered that I did not mind Mumbai at all!